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Publisher's Summary

John O'Brien's books have established him as a writer who communicated the voice of the loner with blistering realness and unmistakable force. Stripper Lessons is perhaps O'Brien's most interior and intense novel, a powerful story of one man's obsessive search to belong.

©1997 John O'Brien (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This posthumously released novel by the late O'Brien, author of Leaving Las Vegas, is an introspective and surprisingly compassionate study of a loner, Carroll. He is middle aged, unmarried, and friendless. His job as a file clerk is a series of humiliations large and small. His life, such as it is, centers on Indiscretions, a strip joint. Although the surroundings are seedy, Carroll goes there nightly with the rather benign expectation that one of the waitresses or strippers will share a real conversation with him. He eventually meets Stevie, a new dancer--and she actually talks to him! He falls for her right then and there. Discarding his protective emotional shell, Carroll shares his fears, ideas, and hopes with her. But he has picked someone with a very limited interest in him, and, as this point begins to come home, Carroll wonders if life wasn't better inside that shell after all. A sensitive and understated novel." (Booklist)

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Not for everyone, but...

When reading John O'Brien I am confronted with several truths. One that it is a horrible tragedy that he left us with only one novel published in his lifetime, two that for a man so able to describe the torments he faced, we are lucky to have the one published novel, and three how very lucky we are that other pieces have been published posthumously.

When reading/listening to Stripper Lessons, I have to wonder how amazingly well it speaks to those of us who suffer from one form or another of social anxiety, and how true so many of Carrol's thought patters are plainly manifest in our lives. How many of his inner dialogues I have had with myself. How many of his struggles have been lived by people like us over and over (and in a thousand different scenarios, not necessarily a strip club). At the same time, I wonder if people without social anxiety read a book like this and simply cannot relate, thinking this this guy is completely off his rocker and should be institutionalized. His struggles must appear just too fantastical to some, right? I honestly don't know.

Like Leaving Las Vegas and Assault on Tony's, Stripper Lessons faces serious issues head on and allows us to see inside the head of the protagonist as well as getting critical insight into the thoughts of others as well. I thank John O'Brien for his work, and I am eternally sorry, for him and for us, that he couldn't bear the weight of life. I also thank those who have helped in the publication of his works. I do wish Stripper Lessons included some information as to the state of the manuscript at the time of Mr. O'Brien's death, as Assault on Tony's had.

The performance by Greg Thornton is perfect, he plays it straight, which is exactly the way the story has its maximum effect.